Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stephen Hawking – A short biography

Stephen Hawking
 Science Museum London
On January 8, 1942, Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England. He is a famous author, cosmologist and theoretical physicist. Hawking showed a passion for the sky and for science at an early age. In his earlier academic life, he was not an exceptional student but recognized as bright though.
He was third from the bottom of his class during his high school year but he focused on recreations outside of school that he and his few close friends created new games of their own. Along with several friends, they constructed a computer out of recycled parts for solving rudimentary mathematical equations at the age of 16. At the age of 17, he entered Oxford University and he has become one of the Oxford rowing team’s coxswain.
He has expressed his desire to study mathematics but Oxford University didn’t offer a mathematics degree, thus, he chose physics and more specifically Cosmology, the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe. Hawking graduated with honors in 1962 and went to attend the University of Cambridge for a Ph.D. in Cosmology.
While he was studying, at the age of 21, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a weakening disease with different causes characterized by fast progressive weakness, muscle atrophy; a partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking, swallowing and breathing. He was given 2 years to live.
In 1963, before he had been diagnosed with ALS, he met a young undergraduate named Jane Wilde which he married in 1965. “I was bored with life before my illness. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing.” Hawking said. With his realization that me might not live long enough to earn his degree in Ph.D. he consumed his time working, studying and researching.
He has done an amazing work in cosmology and physics despite his devastating illness. In 1969, he’s forced to use a wheelchair though physical control over his body loosened. He became a member of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge a year after the birth of his son Robert. He had a daughter named Lucy who was born in 1969 and then 10 years later, Timothy, their third son was born.
Stephen Hawking in zero gravity
In 1975, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, his first book, was published. Because of his researches; his studies in black holes, he turned himself into a celebrity within the scientific world.
He has been given so many awards and honors such as the prestigious Albert Einstein Award, Pius XI Gold Medal for Science from Pope Paul VI. He came back to Cambridge University and became a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
By the mid – 1970s, his speech had become increasingly unclear and in 1985 he lost his voice for good following a tracheotomy. A California computer programmer had developed a speaking program that allowed Hawking to select words on a computer screen then passed through a speech synthesizer. But today, with virtually all control of his body gone, he directs the program through a cheek muscle attached to a sensor.
Hawking left his wife Jane in 1990 for one of his nurses Elaine Mason which he married in 1995 but was divorced in 2006. Hawking’s researches and books such as A Brief History of TimeA Briefer History of Time, and many more helped make science accessible and manageable for everyone.

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